CAR Taekwondo team aims for Palaro sweep
The Cordillera Region's taekwondo team hopes for Palarong Pambansa gold sweep.

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – In a small gym in the heart of Baguio City, dedicated athletes gather 6 days a week and work tirelessly to bring pride to their region.

It is home to some of the country’s brightest young stars in the sport of Taekwondo — the Cordillera Region’s representation for Palarong Pambansa.

They train under the watchful eye of the gym’s owner and winning coach Arnold Oglayon, the first-ever athlete to bring home a Palaro gold medal for the region in any sport.

Having competed in the games before, Oglayon understands the significance of Palaro.

Palarong Pambansa isa talaga sa competition na pinaghahandaan namin dito sa Pilipinas dahil isa siya sa pinakamataas rin. Makikita mo yung bata ginagawa niya yung best nila para manalo.


Ever since Oglayon took over coaching four years ago, car has had at least one taekwondo group finish on top in overall standings.

Oglayon aims to sweep all four this year — to be number one for elementary girls and boys, and high school girls and boys. 

His Palaro athletes, who range from aged 9 to 16, work hard to fulfill the dream.

One of them is Iza Quiambao.

The 12-year-old is excited for her first-ever games, which she expects to be difficult, but an experience to remember.

Masaya daw pag nanalo at pag natalo naman daw po okay lang basta ginawa naman daw po ang best nila.


The team also has Palaro veterans, like 14-year-old Tristan Cayag, who has competed and won in 2 Palaro games.

This year, his 8th year in the sport, Cayag wants to outdo past Palaro performances and snag three gold medals.

Cayag enjoys a scholarship because of his skills, and dreams of representing the country.

Dahil dito nakapag aral ako ng libre, scholar ganun po, pangarap ko po maging Philippine team po kahit sa college man lang.


The discipline needed to suceed in the sport is evident in the commitment shown by the team.

Their fate will be determined in Pangasinan, the venue for Palaro, come May.

Oglayon believes his kids have what it takes not just to win Palaro, but eventually, to make it to the world’s most prestigious sporting event, the Olympics.

The next Filipino Taekwondo athlete to qualify for future Olympics may very well be in this room. But to get there, they must first top one competition at a time, including the biggest one in the nation — the one they have all been waiting for, Palarong Pambansa.

Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler Baguio City. 

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